Today Ryan received an email from a friend in Perth. It was an update with some heartbreaking prayer requests, an attached article on men’s mental health in WA (Western Australia) and general encouragement for us to keep working hard towards getting to Perth, more specifically the Wheatbelt. You can click on the picture below to read the full article that was emailed to us.How talking can mend men by Andrea Burns from the West Australian, gives the reader insight into the state of men’s mental health in these rural communities. She sites the statistic that, “Across Australia, about 8 people kill themselves every day, with men outnumbering women three to one.” But the article also gives a little glimmer of hope in sharing about a group of four men who are being listening ears in these communities. The “Talk to a Mate” signs referred to in this article are what broke Ryan’s heart for this area to begin with. But this battle is far from over and this article shows just one of the ways these communities are hurting.
Please join us in praying for Western Australia. Pray for these communities. Pray for the men who are out there listening and trying to make a difference. And especially pray for the men who are hurting.
While in Australia we became aware of the high suicide rate among farmers as well as others in the area in and around Brookton where we hope to be moving in the next couple of years. While in a public restroom Ryan saw this sign and it broke his heart.
“Before it all gets too much…Talk to a Mate!” The sad reality is that suicide is a major problem (not just in Western Australia but all over the world) and often people who are suicidal don’t know who or where to turn. Unfortunately, friends and family aren’t always equipped to recognize and/or respond when they see the signs of suicide.
Today, the church we attend had a seminar on suicide response, prevention and the gospels place in the conversation. Ryan and I are thankful that the gospel has a message of hope, even in the most hopeless places, which is often where people find themselves when considering suicide. We realize there is still a lot for us to learn but we want to be thoughtful in our preparation and capitalize on opportunities, like attending this seminar, in order to help equip us for the realities we will be facing in Australia.
There is a good chance that even if you have never considered suicide, you probably know someone who has tried or know someone who has died by suicide. If not, statistically speaking most people will be impacted by suicide in their lifetime. There are many resources available now thanks to technology, Virtual Hope Box and MY3 are two apps that can help. They both provide information and resources for those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide but they can also be helpful for family and friends who are looking for ways to help and respond. More information is also available at: suicideispreventable.org and of course there is still a place for an old fashioned phone conversation. 1-800-273-TALK is the US national suicide prevention hotline.
Although we wish a phone number and website could solve this problem, we recognize that it’s not that simple. It takes courage to ask a friend how they’re truly feeling, to hear the cries (however subtle) for help, not ignore or dismiss them and to respond thoughtfully and to take the necessary measures to get good professional help. Ryan and I are continuing to learn and respond well to the reality of suicide. For us the conversation isn’t over but just beginning.